Reformed Charismatics - Again

An interesting comment from Howie on a previous post, asking if using a term like "reformed charismatic" is in danger of not only embracing the best of both those worlds, but is susceptible to the worst of both as well.

Clearly the answer is yes, in that all of us are susceptible to error, bad behaviour, sin, stupidity and nastiness. However we hope that people of good will generally try to think of others in the best possible light, not the worst possible light.

But I think Howie pinpoints something else that is helpful: if I use a term as a shorthand to describe myself, it is understandable if people respond to me according to the way they have historically understood that term, or have been treated by others who use it, or by whether they have seen good practise or bad practise from others who use it. That is, the term defines me. I don't define the term. 

The trouble is that almost all terms have some good historical associations and some bad ones. I can think of excellent things that attach in the mind to the term "conservative evangelical". And some less excellent ones. Same with "charismatic", same with "reformed". Some have suggested "continuationist" is a better term than charismatic, and I am inclined to agree. It is a functional label with a narrower range historical and doctrinal connotations and therefore much easier to define what you mean. Its a bit of a mouthful, though. 

We don't live by our terms, but by what our terms mean. But our knee jerk reaction to evangelicals who don't quite use our terminology always out to be to start with generous assumptions. Too often knee-jerk reaction to lingo and jargon leads to a guilty-until-proved-innocent suspicion of other evangelicals.